Key EU migrant scheme may not be ready before Brexit: Brexit News for Monday 12 February

Key EU migrant scheme may not be ready before Brexit: Brexit News for Monday 12 February
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Key EU migrant scheme may not be ready before Brexit

Theresa May overruled the Home Office to insist that EU citizens who arrived during a Brexit transition period would not have the automatic right to remain in the country. The prime minister made the decision despite warnings from senior officials that they would struggle to create separate systems to register existing EU citizens and new arrivals by March next year. Mrs May announced this month that European citizens who arrived after the country had officially left the EU could not expect the same treatment as the three million citizens already in Britain. The move has caused alarm in the Home Office, with government sources admitting that work on a separate registration scheme had “barely begun” and “almost certainly” would not be ready in time. – Times (£)

There is no ‘plot to gag’ soft Brexiteers in the Cabinet, insists Justice Secretary

There is no “plot to gag” the soft Brexiteers in the Cabinet claims the Justice Secretary, after suggestions Philip Hammond has been frozen out of planning the Government’s new EU policy. David Gauke insisted the fact the Chancellor was not giving one of a number of speeches on Britain’s plan for the negotiations was not proof that his voice was not being heard by the Prime Minister. In a bid to regain the initiative on Brexit after a rocky few weeks during which tensions between her top team came to the surface, Theresa May is set to make two keynote addresses. – The Sun

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube: David Gauke on the Chancellor having been silenced over Brexit

Theresa May ‘will offer to keep close security links with EU in bid to advance Brexit deal’

The Prime Minister will pledge to maintain the UK’s membership of the European arrest warrant and Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency. Mrs May will set out the intention as part of series of speeches by senior ministers designed to clarify Britain’s plan for exiting the EU. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is expected to give an address on Wednesday, while the Prime Minister will speak in Munich on Saturday as part of a campaign Number 10 has dubbed “the road to Brexit”. Brexit Secretary David Davis, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Cabinet Office minister David Lidington will also play a part in setting out the Government’s Brexit vision over the next three weeks. – PoliticsHome

Penny Mordaunt says ‘Common sense will prevail’ on Brexit transition deal

British aid minister Penny Mordaunt said on Sunday she believed the government would be able to strike a transitional Brexit deal with the European Union. “It’s in our interests and it’s in the EU’s interests. I think common sense will prevail,” Mordaunt said when asked if she thought a deal would be reached. Britain is hoping to seal a transition deal next month to smooth its exit from the EU. However, Brussels said last week a deal was not a certainty and that London needed to clarify what it wanted from the EU. – Reuters

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube: Penny Mordaunt: The public want some meat on the bones, and that’s what they’re going to get

UK GDP growth to accelerate on back of stronger services sector

Stronger order books for services sector companies will drive an acceleration in the UK economy, according to an index tracking major business surveys. The findings of surveys by the Bank of England, the Confederation of British Industry, and other organisations show the UK can expected an annual rate of GDP growth of around two per cent in the first quarter of the year, according to analysis by accountancy firm BDO to be published today. BDO’s output index grew to a reading of 99.63 in January, up from from 98.45 at the end of last year – a move towards the 100 mark which indicates the long-term average growth rate. – City A.M.

Brexit will be good for women, says City leader Dame Helena Morrissey

Dame Helena Morrissey has claimed Brexit could be good news for women in the Square Mile. The city heavyweight said Britain leaving the EU could open up opportunities for women in business, while dubbing herself a “progressive Brexiteer”. The head of personal investing at Legal & General Investment Management says she backs Britain’s divorce from the bloc due to concerns over EU influence on UK legislation. She also argues that it could improve the proportion of female executives on boards, which she thinks is best addressed through voluntary action rather than statute. ‘Progressive Brexiteer’. “I would describe myself as a progressive Brexiteer,” the business leader told the Press Association. – i News

Britain not diminished by Brexit, says BP boss

Britain will have pulling power around the world despite Brexit and the prime minister is doing the right thing in keeping negotiations under wraps, according to the boss of BP. Bob Dudley, an American who is one of the most senior figures in British business, dismissed suggestions that Britain’s status was reduced by Brexit. His comments provide rare support from the business community for the government over its handling of Brexit. “There are a lot of countries around the world that would like trade deals with Britain bilaterally down the road, I hear that a lot,” Mr Dudley said in an interview with The Times. “I don’t think British influence is diminished. BP works all over the world and I see the importance of Britain in what we do and how they view BP.” – Times (£)

Citigroup to set up innovation centre in London

US banking giant Citigroup is setting up an innovation centre in London in one of the first strategic investments by a big US bank in the British capital since the Brexit vote. Citi is initially hiring 60 technologists for the centre, the bank’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea) chief executive Jim Cowles told the Financial Times. It will also house the Emea arm of Citi Ventures — which handles the bank’s venture capital investments and innovation partnerships with external companies — and employees from across Citi’s businesses. – FT (£)

Scrap tariffs to pile pressure on EU for best Brexit deal, ministers told

The government should put pressure on the EU by laying out plans for a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario where it scraps all trade tariffs on imported goods, a group of right-wing economists has said. Abolishing tariffs would drive down prices for consumers and stimulate competition by allowing cheap imports such as food and clothing to flood the British market, according to researchers at Policy Exchange.  The threat of the UK abolishing tariffs as part of its ‘no deal’ backup plan would also encourage Brussels to offer a more favourable trade agreement, the economists said. – Telegraph (£)

Tory and Labour MPs plot joint battle for ‘soft’ Brexit and Single Market membership…

Pro-European Tories could join forces with Labour MPs to block Theresa May’s vision of Brexit, a leading “mutineer” has warned. Anna Soubry, a former business minister who is at the forefront of efforts to soften the government’s plans for Brexit, insisted that there was a majority in the Commons against leaving the single market and the customs union, both cornerstones of the government’s policy since January last year. – Times (£)

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube: Chuka Umunna: Jeremy Corbyn will not vote to leave the single market and customs union

…as billionaire George Soros pledges another £100,000 to ‘accelerate’ his fight against Brexit

Billionaire financier George Soros has pledged another £100,000 to his anti-Brexit campaign after he said that engineering a “mere reversal” of the EU referendum result is not enough. Mr Soros, and his OSF Foundation, will say today that they match smaller donations to the Best for Britain campaign up to the value of £100,000 as part of a plan to “accelerate” his campaign to stop Brexit. Best for Britain has urged people to come forward to help the group create a ‘Fight Brexit Fund’. By last night £45,000 had been pledged in donations of less than £100. – Telegraph

  • George Soros needs to check his numbers – Telegraph editorial

Labour will push for a general election rather than a second EU referendum

The Shadow Chancellor did not rule out another Brexit vote but warned that it could reignite tensions between Leave and Remain supporters. He said that if MPs could not agree on the terms of the final deal between the UK the EU it would be “better” for the Government to call a general election. He told ITV1’s Peston on Sunday: “We would never turn our backs on democratic engagement, but our worry at the moment is that if you had another referendum it would divide the country again and at the same time we would open up the potential of that right-wing xenophobia… Better we have a general election on the issue and all the other issues because then you have a wider debate as well.” – PoliticsHome

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube: John McDonnell on a second EU referendum

> On BrexitCentral’s YouTube: John McDonnell: Labour happy with EU control over post-Brexit trade deals

Kezia Dugdale ‘quit as Scottish Labour leader because of Corbyn’s Brexit stance’

The MSP stepped down in August last year, saying the party needed a new leader with “fresh energy and a new mandate”.  Yesterday’s Sunday Herald reports that Ms Dugdale told a private meeting of Labour MSPs that one of the reasons for her departure was the party’s stance on Brexit. A spokesperson for the former leader said her views on the EU were “long-standing and well-known”. “The Labour Party is the best vehicle for stopping a destructive Brexit in its tracks and we must all work together to stop the Tories from taking us down such a ruinous path,” they told the paper. – PoliticsHome

PM flies into Stormont to clinch Northern Ireland power sharing deal

Theresa May will fly to Northern Ireland today in a bid to clinch a new power sharing deal with Unionists and Republicans. There has been no government at Stormont for 13 months since Sinn Fein walked out over corruption claims that engulfed First Minister and DUP boss Arlene Foster. The current negotiations are seen as the last chance to restore devolved government to the province before London is forced to retake full control. A Downing Street official said Mrs May will take part in a series of meetings at Stormont House and encourage the parties to resolve their differences. The official added that the PM will make clear that the UK Government remains fully committed to the restoration of powersharing, devolution and the Belfast Agreement. – The Sun

Scots Tories in push for deal for fish sector

The Scottish Tories want to ensure that the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) when it quits the EU in March next year, and then takes a seat at the end of year negotiations in Brussels in December 2019 as an independent coastal state. The party made sweeping gains in the north-east at last year’s UK election and want to be seen to be delivering for fishing communities. Last night, a senior Scottish Conservative source said: “Getting a deal for our fishermen during the implementation phase is an absolute red line for us.” North-east MSP Peter Chapman, shadow rural economy secretary at Holyrood, held private talks with UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove on the issue last weekend, while Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid has also been lobbying senior colleagues at Westminster. – Press and Journal

UK food and farming sector calls on Government to maintain free trade with EU

The UK’s food and farming industry is calling on the Government to maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU. A total of 36 organisations, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), have said the country’s landscape, economy and society will suffer if Brexit does not champion UK food producers and the businesses that rely on them. They said it is “clear” that the decision to leave the EU is already having an impact on the sector. – AOL

Clean Brexit will leave sour taste for Irish food sector

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has knocked almost €600 million of the value of Irish agri-food exports and left Britain-dependent food producers in a precarious position, according to a new report. Research by Food Drink Ireland found that producers of prepared foods were among the most exposed to the damaging effects of a hard Brexit. These foods include ready-to-eat meals, confectionery and bakery products. Respondents to the survey expressed concern over their ability to sustain low margin business in the UK. They were also worried about a further weakening of sterling, the imposition of tariffs and higher supply chain costs that would be incurred if the UK leaves the customs union as expected. – Times (£)

Geoff Raby: Britain should drop tariffs and champion free trade

Britain needs to embrace unilateral free trade. That is the vision set out in Policy Exchange’s new report, Global Champion, in the week that government ministers are agreeing the aims of Brexit negotiators. By dropping tariffs we can help reduce UK consumers’ shopping bills, increase productivity and promote global prosperity. We can also disarm the threat of a “No Deal” Brexit. Free trade would give consumers access to international products such as food, clothing and cars at the cheapest global price, rather than the current artificially high prices that result from EU tariffs. The productivity challenge, furthermore, that is dogging western economies would be best addressed by exposing domestic firms to greater competition. Why should the shopper in Lidl pay more to top up the income of rich landowners? – Geoff Raby for the Times (£)

Mark Littlewood: The PM should move her focus to America if she wants a good Brexit

Barely a week has gone by without there being some supposed “crunch” meeting for the prime minister. These are portrayed as marking the point at which ambiguities over the government’s precise intentions over the UK’s departure from the European Union need to be resolved. So far, however, there has been little in terms of either resolution or crunch. It is hard not to have some sympathy for Mrs May as she continues to avoid articulating a clear vision as to what Brexit Britain should look like. She is hamstrung not merely by her own natural caution and tendency to procrastinate, but also by severe divisions in her party, which, of course, does not command an overall majority in parliament. It is difficult to see how she can win a vote in the House of Commons without the near-unanimous backing of Conservative MPs and it is equally hard to imagine what sort of deal would unite the overwhelming majority of Tories. – Mark Littlewood for the Times (£)

Juliet Samuel: The EU has ensnared us in these talks. Here are three steps to free Britain from the trap

Theresa May does not want to tie Britain into a legal web of permanent submission to Brussels, just as King John did not want to kneel. But that is where she is leading us. Despite this, the Tories are unable or unwilling to remove her. So now the only way out of the legal trap laid for us by Brussels is to buy time by fudging this year’s negotiation. After March next year, the Tories can ditch Mrs May and start negotiations in earnest. The idea of a good Brexit deal is off the table for the moment. Our Government must now expend every effort to avoid signing us up to a long-term vassal-state arrangement in the next 12 months. – Juliet Samuel for the Telegraph (£)

Lee Rotherham: “The EU is a rules-based organisation.” Oh, really? Consider these ten examples to the contrary. And there’s more.

The Brexit transition inevitably raises a large number of technical and legalistic questions. But some of the biggest are turning out really to be political ones. A noted example has been the attempt to bar Liam Fox from discussing Britain’s future free trade agreements – let alone sign off a postdated draft. The most stultifyingly outrageous, though, is the proposition that the UK has to have left the EU before it can negotiate what future trade terms will look like. This really does test the assertion that “the EU is a rules-based organisation”. Such phasing was obviously expedient for the European Commission, which sought to neutralise a high value card held by London. As a net donor, our net payments might be withheld at a point of outrage (the cheque gets sent in by the Treasury every fortnight, as Margaret Thatcher noticed). – Lee Rotheram for ConservativeHome

Julian Harris: The last thing we need at this point is more Brexit bluster

A BMG survey found that nearly three-quarters of Brits were unclear about the PM’s overall strategy for leaving the European Union. A few strong, set-piece speeches, one might think, could reassure the voting public and open up an even bigger gap over Corbyn’s Labour. Thus, May, David Davis, Liam Fox and David Lidington will all attempt to elucidate the road ahead. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, will issue what Number 10 calls a “rallying cry to those on both sides of the Brexit debate”. Such efforts may prove to be politically astute. However, one cannot help but wonder if it is wise to line up a series of speeches when the Cabinet remains split on key issues and is being forced to retreat to Chequers in an effort to (finally) resolve its differences. – Julian Harris for City A.M.

Bijan Omrani: Julius Caesar would dismiss the EU’s empire building as an astonishing failure

That Brexiteers might say “I’m British, I can’t be a European”, or Remainers “I’m ashamed of being British, I’m really a European” is a failure that would have astonished the Romans. Part of this is cultural cowardice. Rome never had any problems in expressing its cultural identity. For Rome, culture was a part of keeping the empire together. Latin-speaking schools, Roman-style towns, amphitheatres and temples all followed the legions. The EU has struggled even to articulate its cultural ideals. For example, in 2007, there was a call for a vision of Europe to be included in the preamble to the Lisbon Treaty. After much debate, no one could agree, in positive terms, what this actually was. – Bijan Omrani for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit in brief

  • Britain has exported its political mess to Germany – Wolfgang Munchau for the FT (£)
  • Departing EFTA court chief says it’s good option for UK – Bloomberg
  • New poll shows Britons don’t understand what Theresa May wants from withdrawal – Independent
  • Irish EU spokesman: Hard border is a clear and present danger to the peace process – PoliticsHome
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg is second favourite to succeed Theresa May if she is forced out, exclusive new poll reveals – Independent
  • Most of population wish Brexit could be halted, says Lib Dem MP – Herald Scotland
  • Brexit threatens Pakistan’s trade perks with the EU – Politico
  • Survey suggests European businesses still expect UK ‘soft Brexit’ – FT (£)
  • Carwyn Jones to fight for Welsh ports in Ireland visit – BBC News
  • Merkel defends ‘painful’ coalition concessions to SPD – FT (£)